Paper Whites & Alcohol

December 18, 2017

Categories: Bulb Information, Diseases and Pests, General, Growing Daffodils, Hybridizing, Pots, Seedling, Soil, Virus

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Brent Heath will tell you if you want a pot of daffodils to have short foliage and shorter sturdier bloom stalks that you need more bright light. Growing pots indoors in a cool/cold garage under very bright fluorescent or LED light source that is just 12 inches/30 CM above the soil level will help to provide the bare minimum of light for the daffodil bulbs to produce shorter foliage. You need bright light for 16 hours a day or longer! Every plant person with a smart phone needs to download a “Free LUX APP” that will give them approximately the amount of Lumens that are hitting the face of your phone! Our Master Gardeners were trying to grow pots of daffodil bulbs in an unheated greenhouse with a double layer of shade cloth because it is easier to keep all plants in one location for watering purposes. Outside the greenhouse on a sunny day we had 65,000 lumens, inside the greenhouse on the tops of the daffodil foliage we only had 138 lumens. Under the fluorescent lights for my African violets I have just over 8,000 lumens. I grow various plant seedlings pretty well at 4,000 lumens at the tops of the seedling leaves. Needless to say the pots of daffodils, basically growing in a dark closet had leaves lying flat over the edges of the pots.

Lumens from light bulbs are not the same as the full light spectrum from our sun. The better phone App’s for Lux will allow you to use a high quality light meter and you can calibrate your phone to get close to what a $500.00 Lumen meter is reading. But for general purposes most of the phone Apps will be close enough. It is possible to experiment with different plants and you can keep many of them even more compact with less lumens but more hours of light.

For spindly tomato and pepper plant seedlings it helps to use an oscillating fan that blows back and forth across flats or pots of seedlings bending them over, twisting the leaves and stems from the time that they sprout out of the soil until you get ready to move them outside.

In my greenhouse I use ceiling fans to keep seedling/transplants leaves and shoots moving in a constant breeze, keeps temperatures and moisture/humidity more evenly mixed. I also use thermostatically controlled higher speed fans that come on in high heat to push hot air down onto some of the plants creating warmer wind gusts?

I thought that the research into adding alcohol to potted daffodils was done with untreated ethanol fuel grade alcohol or the equivalent of “Southern brewed White lightning”. Research I read is that a perfect blend (what percentage?) of white lightning and water would burn off a majority of the “hair roots” growing along the main spaghetti type bulb roots preventing the bulb from bringing up the majority of the soil nutrients and also drastically reducing the ability of the roots to replenish lost water from the leaves of the plants. Thus the alcohol was used as a “root pruning” to stunt the growth of bulbs foliage and stem growth reduction.

Out of doors paper whites in bloom across the southern states, a total of only 39 hours from Oct. 28th (first killing frost) to Dec. 18 with temperatures below 32*F/0*C at my house. Keith Kridler Mt. Pleasant, Texas 100 miles due east of Dallas/Fort Worth.

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One Response to Paper Whites & Alcohol

  1. Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    Clay Higgins, North Carolina
    December 19, 2017 at 8:15 am

    Hey Keith,

    I knew there was an expert out there somewhere, and I’m not surprised it was you. Thanks a million for this information. I am going to pass it along to our master gardeners and the chief of the master gardeners greenhouse committee.